N04422 MRS CYPRIAN WILLIAMS AND HER TWO LITTLE GIRLS 1891
Inscr. ‘P. W. Steer’ b.r.
Canvas, 30×40 1/4 (76×102).
Purchased from Barbizon House (Clarke Fund) with the aid of a contribution from David Croal Thompson 1928.
Coll: Francis Edward James until 1920.
Exh: N.E.A.C., April 1891 (33); Barbizon House, February 1928 (5); Tate Gallery, April–July 1929 (4); National Gallery, June–August 1943 (10).
Lit: MacColl in Artwork, No.17, 1929, pp.10, 15, repr. p.3; MacColl, 1945, pp.44, 46, 101, 106, 192.
Repr: Barbizon House Record, 1929, No.28; Ironside, 1943, pl.18.
Commissioned in 1890 by Francis Edward James (1849–1920) the painter, who exhibited at the New English Art Club and Royal Watercolour Society, of which he was an Associate. The chief sitter was the wife of a well-known collector, T. Cyprian Williams, and appears to have been herself an amateur artist since she exhibited as a non-member at the N.E.A.C. from April 1891 to November 1892. At the April 1891 exhibition she showed a painting ‘Gwen and Joan’ which may just possibly have been a portrait of her two daughters.
Two studies of Mrs Cyprian Williams are listed in MacColl's catalogue (1945, p.192); one, ‘Sketch of Mrs Cyprian Williams’ (panel, 9×11 in.), was apparently done while Steer was staying at Hayling Island in 1891, and was sold at Sotheby's in 1940 by the executors of Mrs H. R. Williams. A second ‘full-length study’ of Mrs Williams was also in this sale.
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II